The 2022 NBA Draft will be held on Thursday, June 23. Since the Nets decided to defer the pick owed to them as part of the James Harden trade, the Sixers will select 23rd overall. Ahead of the draft, we’ll look at several prospects that could fit the Sixers and be realistic possibilities at No. 23.
During what was an especially down year for Nebraska basketball en route just a 10-22 overall record, Bryce McGowens nevertheless managed to put together a very productive season.
Across 31 games for the Cornhuskers, McGowens averaged 16.8 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, both of which were team highs. He ultimately was named third team All-Big Ten and made the Big Ten all-freshman team, along with the likes of Malaki Branham, Chucky Hepburn, Max Chrstie, and Moussa Diabate.
As of writing this, McGowens is projected to be either a late-first round or early-second round pick, very likely putting him in play for the Sixers. The team reportedly conducted a pre-draft interview with McGowens at the combine in May, so it’s evident that he’s at the very least on the team’s radar. Although the Sixers have made it appear that there’s a good chance they won’t end up keeping whoever they select this year, McGowens still presents an intriguing option for the team to consider.
Ball-handling represents a majority of the appeal surrounding McGowens. He’s not particularly shifty or speedy with the ball in his hands, but he has a clean handle and can utilize his length and athleticism to either drive to the paint or create separation in the mid-range.
That ball-handling ability meshes pretty well with his aggressive scoring instincts. When driving to the basket, he can absorb and finish through a good deal of contact with either hand at the rim. He’s also more than capable of finishing above the rim with his leaping ability. If he can hit shots at a more consistent clip, he has some legitimate three-level, go-to scoring potential.
In addition, he has the size and length at 6-foot-7, 181 pounds with a nearly 6-foot-9 wingspan to eventually develop into a very versatile defender. Fully locking in on that end of the court could do wonders to his overall upside and elevate his game even more moving forward.
One of the overarching concerns with McGowens is his inconsistent shooting ability, as he shot just 27.4% from deep on 4.7 attempts per game. Although he was an above-average free-throw shooter (83.1% from the charity stripe) and has good mechanics, shots just didn’t fall from the outside for him. He’ll have to prove that he can be at least a serviceable shooter to get any meaningful playing time right out of the gate.
Despite some flashes, his playmaking ability is still very much a work in progress. He had a score-first mindset this past season, which led to him taking a good amount of difficult shots and having a reputation as being a hesitant passer. Developing into more of a willing playmaker is likely going be a top priority for him.
There are also a ton of questions about his defense. Even though he has all the tools one would look for in a plus defender, he appears undisciplined at times and isn’t always completely engaged on that end of the court. It’s a part of his game that is going to require significant work once he gets to the league.
Fit with Sixers
With just a few days left until draft day, reports indicate that the Sixers are shopping packages that include their first-round pick and Danny Green in the hopes of acquiring immediate contributors. Due to the Stepien Rule, they won’t be able to actually trade the pick until after the draft concludes.
Taking that into account, as well as McGowens being a clear work-in-progress at the moment, it’s fair to question how he would fit on the Sixers. Should the team end up deciding to use their pick to bet on promise, taking a swing on a player that has flashed the kind of scoring potential McGowens has at his size wouldn’t be a terrible gamble by any means. Having a guy like that at their disposal to grow and develop would almost be a luxury.
Yet what McGowens could most likely represent for the Sixers is an appealing trade piece. Teams looking to deal veterans in exchange for young players with high upside is a pretty appealing proposition. McGowens would fit that bill as a player with the attributes a team would almost certainly be willing to take a chance on.